Best Form of Acne Treatment
The best form of treatment for acne depends on the severity of the problem. You can treat acne at home without the assistance of a doctor about 90 percent of the time, according to Health Guidance. If your mild acne becomes more severe, you must consult a doctor. The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library and the University of Michigan Health System both divide acne into three conditions: mild, moderate and severe.
Finding the best form of acne treatment is important because the blackheads, whiteheads and pimples caused by acne can become abscesses and cysts that can affect your appearance for a long time and spur psychological problems. Patients need to understand that bacteria, hormonal changes and skin oils cause acne, but foods don't and about 40 percent of adults who are at least 25 years old will get acne during their lives, according to the Merck Manuals.
Washing your face with soap and warm water three times daily can effectively treat mild acne, but doctors recommend over-the-counter medicines as it becomes slightly worse, according to the University of Michigan's Acne Vulgaris report. Over-the-counter medicines are available in creams, gels, lotions, pads and soaps. Benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid and sulfur are among the best over-the-counter medicines. They have minor side effects such as burning or redness that go away and "take up to eight weeks before you see noticeable improvement," according to the report.
Oral antibiotics usually treat moderate acne. They begin having an effect in four to eight weeks, but you might need to take them for months "or even years" to prevent recurrences, according to Merck Manuals' Acne report. The most commonly used antibiotic, tetracycline, helps "suppress acne-promoting bacteria in the skin's oil glands," according to Consumer Reports The Best of Health. Tetracycline's side effects include stomach cramps, diarrhea and vaginal yeast infections. Vitamin A derivatives called retinoids can also effectively treat moderate acne, according to the Acne Vulgaris report.
"Accutane is the best treatment" for severe acne, according to Merck's Acne report. Accutane can prevent scarring and remove acne from your skin within four or five months. Unfortunately, the drug's possible side effects include birth defects in fetuses so pregnant women cannot use it, and other women need to take "two separate effective forms of birth control" one month before they start and finish taking accutane, reports University of Michigan's Acne Vulgaris report. Accutane can also cause muscle aches, nosebleeds and poor night vision.
Your acne could be gone, but you might still need treatment if acne's scars made your skin severely pitted and pockmarked, according to The Best of Health. The best treatment for acne scars is dermabrasion, a procedure in which the skin is essentially sanded. The procedure usually requires anesthesia and either a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon. Dermabrasion patients usually have raw skin for 10 to 14 days and redness for significantly longer.
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